Task now falls to NHVR to make sure electronic diaries are ready to go

Photography by: Brad Gardner

Regulator needs to develop procedures for trucking industry and enforcement agencies.

Task now falls to NHVR to make sure electronic diaries are ready to go
Electronic work diaries will alert truck drivers when they need to take a break, NTC CEO Paul Retter says.

The passage of legislation approving electronic work diaries (EWD) means work must now begin on making sure the right procedures are in place for the trucking industry to use them.

Queensland Parliament this week passed legislation to allow the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to approve the use of the devices as an alternative to paper diaries.

EWDS are voluntary and are seen within government and parts of the industry as an effective means of complying with heavy vehicle fatigue management law.

"The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will now be charged with developing operational procedures to approve EWDs for use by transport operators and drivers, and to ensure transport compliance officers have the right technical equipment and support to read the data from an EWD," the National Transport Commission (NTC) says.

The NTC, which recommended to transport ministers last year to approve EWDs, says the devices will make it easier for the industry to comply with work and rest break requirements.

"The heavy vehicle drivers who choose to use an EWD will also receive extra benefits from using them such as receiving alerts when breaks are required," NTC CEO Paul Retter says.

"The implementation of EWDs will be voluntary, but we expect many drivers will choose them once they are widely commercially available."

The trucking industry has raised concerns the highly accurate EWDs will lead to drivers being penalised for minor breaches, but policy makers believe an eight-minute work tolerance addresses this.

The rule means drivers with EWDs will be able to exceed work time by a total of eight minutes in a 24-hour period without incurring a penalty.

"For example, a driver who exceeds work time by five minutes in the first period of work may only exceed work time by up to three minutes for the rest of that 24-hour period, unless the driver makes up for the five minutes at a later time in that day," the NTC says.

"This is intended to make it impractical to deliberately schedule the additional eight minutes as work time."
However, there is no tolerance level for minor breaches of rest time. It means drivers potentially face fines for infringing rest requirements by as little as a few seconds.

Industry group the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) pushed for a tolerance level for rest breaks to protect drivers from petty fines.


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